When people hear the word love they usually think about romantic love:
- Falling in love with another person
- Having a crush on someone
- Falling head over heels
- Three little words
- Love at first sight
- And many many more...
Romantic love, in short, means “an intense feeling of deep affection towards a specific person.”
There is, obviously, a lot to say about romantic love. Too much, in fact. To put it in words from The Simpsons: “A million poets working for a thousand years could not succeed at describing even 3/8 of [romantic] love.”
And while it is difficult to narrow it down, or even put into words, we decided to divide romantic love up into two categories: falling in love and long-term love – or better – real love!
Falling in Love – Bliss and Total Agony Close Together
Have you ever heard the saying love is like a drug? It can certainly feel that way. And that's because it does in fact feel like you're under some kind of influence.
You can't stop thinking about the other person. Every time they look or smile at you, you're catapulted into the seventh heaven. But every time they ignore you or withdraw (even if you just think they do), you plummet back down to earth and nothing in the world can ease the pain.
From one extreme to another. Non-stop. A constant roller coaster ride of emotions. There's (almost) no better/worse feeling in the world.
And it's the same feeling for almost everyone in the world. No matter where you are from, people fall in love. It might not have the same significance in every country and culture – some put great emphasis on it, while in others it's more frowned upon – but (almost) everyone falls in love one time or another in their life. Some fall pretty hard, feel it more intensely than others, but it is the same feeling nonetheless. And that's pretty much what falling in love is: a feeling.
But it is not love (yet).
To Love Someone Takes Time and – Oftentimes – Effort
When you fall in love with someone, you would do almost anything for them. If they asked you to take a walk at 4 in the morning because they don't feel well, you wouldn't hesitate!
When you've been with someone for 10 years, however, and they asked you the same thing, even though you've worked all day, have to get up at 6, and have a busy day coming up, you might not be too thrilled about taking a walk at 4 in the morning.
So what happened? Why is it different ten years later?
When you’re falling in love everything is great! The other person is perfect, you have tons of energy and the feeling of being in love makes you do almost anything for them. However, eventually this trip that you’re on, the love drug, so to speak, will wear off over time and lessen in its intensity. Not for everyone, of course, and for some it lasts longer than others, but in most cases that is just what happens.
The problem (if you want to call it that) is that your partner might not be as exciting as you thought they were. You realize they are not perfect after all, and there are things you don’t like about them. And your willingness to do everything for them – like you used to when you were over the moon and had tons of energy – starts to wane little by little.
This is not a bad thing at all. On the contrary, this is the point, the threshold if you will, where real love can start to grow. Because now – and this might sound negative, which it is not – the work begins!
Give and Take, Wants and Needs, and Putting the other Person First
When you were in love you did things for the other person, but you got a lot out of it as well: you wanted to spend as much time with the other person as you can. You wanted to see them, touch them, feel them, and more. In other words, this is something you wanted. Which is just natural. Many of us want to be loved, hugged and kissed, listened to, taken care of by someone else. And just because it’s something you wanted, doesn’t mean you were being selfish or not giving something back in return.
However, the difference now is that when you give something, you might not get anything in return anymore – at least not instantaneously.
Your partner needs to be driven to a friend’s place for a birthday party, but this means you would miss your important game or movie?
Back when you were in love this wasn’t a problem. But now that you know your partner, know their flaws, even are annoyed by them sometimes, the thrill of doing something for them is not the same. Because in this case you don’t get what you want. In this example, all you do is something for the other person. But, like we have already discussed, this is the beginning, or rather an act of real love. Doing something for the other person, even if it goes against what you might want.
If you truly love the other person that is something you do. Putting the other person first, ahead of your own wants and needs. Yes, there has to be a certain balance and there is a difference between doing something for someone else and being taken advantage of. But the fact remains that real love requires at least some kind of effort.
And this is not something you can learn overnight. This takes time, trial and error, good and bad times. But eventually love will grow. Not just between you and your partner, but also for both of you individually.
But What’s In It for You? Why Should You Go Against What You Want for Someone Else?
Have you ever done something for your partner that made them happy? Not when you felt like doing something for them, but when you did something for them even though you didn’t want to? If so, did you realize how their face lighted up? How they smiled thankfully and gave you a kiss? How did it make you feel when you saw your partner like that?
If you have never done that – which is perfectly fine and there’s no judging here whatsoever – why don’t you give it a try and see how it makes you feel. The next time your partner wants something, but you don’t want to do it, do it anyway! Just give it a go.
Not only will your partner benefit from it, but you will as well. Check out this great article on selflessness to see more about how you can benefit from being loving towards others:
Not Everyone Falls in Love the Same – Or at All
Some people fall harder than others. For some being in love is so intense it feels as though it’s too much to handle, while for others it is just a small and barely noticeable tingling. And there are some who don’t fall in love at all, but just start to grow into a relationship and eventually develop real love for the other person. This might also be something to think about when you have fallen in love (and goes back to how a big part of love is understanding): just because you fell head over heels for someone, doesn't mean the feeling is mutual. The other person might also be in love with you, but even if they are, perhaps for them it is not as intense as for you. Or the other way around: someone is crazy about you, but you don't feel the same way.
Understanding that other people may feel, and show their feelings, in a different way than you – not just when it comes to love, actually, but in general – is an important aspect of love.
What is your experience with romantic love?
Let us know in our Storytime section about your partner(s) and relationships! What does romantic love mean to you? What you have learned or how you have benefited from loving or being loved by someone?
Are you looking for help/advice? Do you need someone to talk to about your love problems? Check out our Help section!